Iran spies in Saudi Arabia include professor, student

Charges against the suspects also included establishing an espionage cell in favor of Iran and meetings with Iranian intelligence elements

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A cell of 32 people in Saudi Arabia accused of spying for Iran includes a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh and a student at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, court sources have said.

They did not disclose the names but said the suspects also included an academician who held the job of “development researcher” at the Ministry of Education for more than 25 years.

The Criminal Court in Riyadh began its sessions on Sunday to try the suspects and has so far listened to the charges against 16 of them.

The list of charges against the accused was presented by the attorney general who charged them of high treason and called for capital punishment.

READ ALSO: All you need to know about the trial of Iranian cell in Saudi

The court sources said one of the defendants was assigned three lawyers to defend him while another gave power of attorney to eight members of his own family. The suspects also included an Afghan national and an Iranian who appeared before the court of Tuesday.

The sources said the judge noted the presence of a large number of lawyers assigned to the defendants, as well as the defendants’ wives and other family members. The judge, according to the sources, made it clear to the defendants that he would not mind the large number of representatives but said their attendance would depend on the available space in the court.

The judge handed out to each defendant a list of charges and fixed certain dates next month for them to submit their written or verbal replies.

The charges against the suspects also included establishing an espionage cell in favor of Iran, meetings with Iranian intelligence elements and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, passing over to Iran secret information related to the Kingdom’s military installations and national security, plotting to sabotage vital military and financial establishments in the Kingdom and illegally acquiring arms and ammunition.

The sources said the judge allowed the families and relatives to attend the court sessions.

This article first appeared in the Saudi Gazette on Feb. 24, 2016.

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